- This article is about the episode. For the location, see Serpent's Pass.
|"The Serpent's Pass? Only the truly desperate take that deadly route!"|
|— Ying expressing her shock at Sokka's choice of route.|
"The Serpent's Pass" is the 12th episode of Book Two: Earth of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the 32nd of the overall series. It premiered at select United States movie theaters on September 9, 2006, and made its television debut on September 15, 2006.
After leaving the desert, the group meets up with Suki, and attempts to lead a family through the Serpent's Pass. They are attacked by a giant serpent, but manage to ward it off and make it across. Meanwhile, Zuko and Iroh are also on their way to start a new life in the Earth Kingdom capital of Ba Sing Se, and encounter Jet and some of the Freedom Fighters, with whom Zuko starts to bond. The group finally makes it to Ba Sing Se, only to find the Fire Nation is about to send a gigantic drill to destroy the city's wall.
The scene opens with Aang, Toph, Momo, and Katara enjoying a short refreshing break in a pool of water at the base of a waterfall while Sokka reviews the maps they acquired from the Spirit Library. After accidentally soaking the maps with a waterbending bomb, which is similar to a cannonball in a pool, Katara uses her waterbending to extract the water from the maps. The group subsequently huddles around the map to discuss in which direction they should go, concluding that the Serpent's Pass appears to be the most direct route. Just as they decide to take the mountainous route, a group of three Earth Kingdom refugees – namely Than, his pregnant wife, Ying, and his sister – approaches and greets the gang. Hearing the group's plans to go through the Serpent's Pass, which Ying describes as a "deadly" route for only the desperate, the Earth Kingdom trio convinces Aang's group to go to Full Moon Bay instead to take a ferry to Ba Sing Se.
After arriving at the hidden Full Moon Bay ferry station, Katara is amazed to see how many refugees there are awaiting transportation. Unknown to the group, a ferry which has just departed has not only Iroh and Zuko, disguised as Mushi and Lee, on board, but also three former Freedom Fighters: Jet, Smellerbee, and Longshot. Iroh contemplates the irony of him returning to his greatest failure. After overhearing Zuko's complaints about how bad the food tasted, Jet comes over and tells him and Iroh that the captain is eating like a king while the passengers are left with the scraps. He exclaims that this is unfair and asks Zuko to assist his group in "liberating" some food, to which the firebender agrees.
Meanwhile, back at Full Moon Bay, the ticketmaster refuses to allow the cabbage merchant to bring on any vegetables as they may have parasites. Aang approaches the ticketmaster and requests four tickets. She does not let him through on the accounts of not having a passport, Momo being an animal and therefore not allowed on, and refusal to believe Aang is the Avatar, as she sees fifty a day. Aang backs away as Toph claims that she will take care of it and approaches with her Beifong family document, upon which the ticketmaster gushes her loyalties to the Beifong family and accommodates her by granting passage to the four of them, allowing Momo as her seeing-eye-lemur.
Just as Sokka starts celebrating their acquisition of the tickets, he is grabbed at the neck by a guard asking for their tickets and passports. Not recognizing her until she kisses him on the cheek, Sokka is surprised by a clean-faced Suki greeting them. As they catch up on old times and Suki is told of Appa's disappearance, the refugees that led Team Avatar to the bay call up to them in desperation, as their tickets and passports had been stolen. Despite Aang's appeal to the ticketmaster, she will not allow the trio onto the ferry. Therefore, Aang decides he will lead them all through the Serpent's Pass.
As the group heads to the Serpent's Pass, Suki joins them, although Sokka seems to have some misgivings which he does not voice. The group arrives at the Serpent's Pass, and Katara reads the inscription on the post at the entrance which states that they should abandon hope. As they head along the pass, they see a Fire Nation ship in the lake. Suddenly, the rock path gives way underneath one of the refugees, but Toph manages to save him. The rock fall attracts the attention of the Fire Nation ship, which begins firing at the group. Aang deflects fireballs from the group, but one manages to make a hit. After pushing Suki out of the way of rock debris from a Fire Nation blast, Sokka is right in the path of the falling debris, but Toph earthbends a barrier to deflect it. Instead of thanking Toph, Sokka focuses on getting Suki out of harm's way. This annoys Toph, but she quickly follows the group. As night falls, Sokka again acts overprotective of Suki, which baffles her.
Back on the ferry, Zuko, Jet, and Smellerbee sneak up into the captain's private food storeroom and, in Jet's words, liberate some food. Longshot shoots up a line for them to escape, which is subsequently pulled out once the group is back on the lower deck, disguising the escape route.
As Aang looks out over the water, Katara lets him know it is all right to miss Appa. She asks why he is keeping his emotions in check and Aang replies that he did not like how his anger changed him in the desert. Katara encourages Aang to not give up on hope and attempts to give him a hug, but he simply bows and thanks her for her concern.
As Sokka is looking at the moon, Suki approaches him and comments on its beauty. She asks him why he is being so over-protective and he tries to explain about how he was unable to protect someone at the North Pole and does not want that to happen to anyone else he cares about. Suki, in a roundabout way, tells Sokka she has missed him; the two almost kiss, but Sokka claims he cannot. Suki apologizes, but Sokka says it is not her fault.
As the ferry continues its passage to Ba Sing Se, Jet hands out food to the other passengers, while Iroh comments that Smellerbee is an unusual name for a young man. Smellerbee says, "Maybe it's because I'm not a man; I'm a girl", and storms off. Through his silent gestures, Longshot manages to calm her down. Jet sits with Iroh and Zuko and thinks about how great it will be to see the wall of the great city. Iroh says it is a sight to behold as he saw it once when he was a different man. Jet says he is going there for a new beginning, and Iroh, appearing to be directing his attention at Zuko, says that people deserve a second chance.
The next morning at the Serpent's Pass, the group hits a section which is completely submerged beneath the lake. Initially discouraged, the group is brought together as Katara tells everyone to get in a single file line as she parts the water for them to walk the path. Aang helps out and they create a bubble for them to walk in. Momo jumps into the water, looking to catch some fish when suddenly something large swims by. When the bubble is burst by the creature, Toph earthbends the floor of the path high enough to get them above the waterline. The creature circles them and shows himself, upon which Sokka shockingly states that he realizes why it is called the Serpent's Pass.
Aang tells Katara to get the others to safety as he distracts the serpent. Katara makes an ice bridge for the others to cross and promptly heads out on top of the water to assist Aang. Sokka encourages Toph to cross the ice. Toph prefers to stay where she can see, but swiftly changes her mind when her miniature island is destroyed. Just as she reaches the halfway point, the serpent smashes the bridge, sending her into the water. Toph, who can not swim, calls for help. As Sokka prepares to go, Suki jumps in and rescues her, but the earthbender thought it was Sokka, who had called out to Toph that he was coming for her. Toph kisses Suki, realizing her error when Suki speaks. Embarrassed, she tells the warrior, "You can go ahead and let me drown now." Aang and Katara create a large maelstrom, spinning the serpent, who eventually gets knocked out as he hits one of the walls. The group completes its trek to the other side of the pass and they see the wall of Ba Sing Se; however, Ying goes into labor. Katara takes charge again and designates jobs to everyone as they prepare to help the woman deliver her baby.
Jet tells Zuko that from the scar he knows who he is, which immediately puts Zuko on the defensive, but Jet continues on to say he is an outcast like himself and they need to have each other's back. Zuko states he has realized that being on one's own is not always the best path.
Katara helps deliver the baby and the others go right in to see, except for Aang. However, Katara tells him that he has to see the newborn, so he heads in. Amazed, Aang's expression changes from discouraged to encouraged. As the couple thinks of a name, Aang tears up and says, "I've been going through a really hard time lately, but you've made me... hopeful again." Ying says she knows what they should name their daughter – Hope – and Than agrees.
Later, Aang tells Katara that he thought he was being strong, but was really running away from his feelings. Seeing the family full of love reminded him of how he feels about Appa and about her. They embrace as the others walk toward them. Aang says he is going to try to find Appa and they wish him luck. Suki tells Sokka she needs to get back to her warriors, and Sokka is surprised to realize she came to protect him. Suki apologizes for the previous night, but Sokka stops her with a kiss.
Aang reaches the wall and majestically ascends to the top only to be shocked to see a huge mechanical drill with the Fire Nation emblem emblazoned upon it. Aang turns to Momo and says, "Sorry Momo, Appa is going to have to wait."
- Directed by:
- Also starring:
- Additional voices:
- Dee Bradley Baker
- Main article: Transcript:The Serpent's Pass
- Main article: Transcript:The Serpent's Pass (commentary)
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- Main article: Avatar Extras for Book Two: Earth
- The pregnant Earth Kingdom refugee and her husband (Ying, Than, and Than's sister) are the same couple that Zuko decided not to rob during the beginning of "Zuko Alone". They later appeared very briefly during the Fire Nation Victory of Ba Sing Se in "The Awakening" and briefly in "The Drill".
- The person Sokka keeps referring to that he did not protect is Yue, though he never mentions her name in front of Suki. When Sokka and Suki almost kiss, the moon in the background between their faces is symbolic of how Sokka's feelings about Yue are separating him from Suki at that moment.
- This is the second time Sokka has thought of Momo as food. The first time was in "The Southern Air Temple".
- After Katara's cannonball into the pool, Aang is not seen being thrown out of the water. When the water begins to rain down, Aang crashes down in his ice encasement.
- When Katara splashes Sokka's maps with water, Sokka does not get wet even though he is right next to the maps.
- When Sokka uses a map to show that they just came out of the desert, the desert and water are colored the same.
- As Toph is walking to present her passport to the attendant, she hands Aang her bag, which subsequently disappears for the rest of the scene.
- When Team Avatar is talking to Suki in Full Moon Bay, they are interrupted by Than and Ying who say, "Avatar Aang, you have to help us. Someone took all of our belongings. Our passports, our tickets, everything's gone", but it is clearly visible that they still have two backpacks.
- As Team Avatar departs Full Moon Bay to escort Than, Ying and Than's sister to Ba Sing Se via the Serpent's Pass, Suki expresses her interest to join them. At first, she does not appear to be carrying anything. When she comes face to face with Sokka, however, a rolled sleeping mat suddenly appears on her back.
- When the group is leaving to go though the Serpent's Pass, there is a mistake in the captions, where the line, "I can't believe you're still complaining", is credited to Katara, when it is actually Toph that says the line.
- When the Fire Nation ship that spots Team Avatar fires the second fireball, the trebuchet seems to go right through the hull of the ship.
- Before Zuko and the Freedom Fighters steal food from the ship, the wheel of the boat is seen rotating the opposite direction.
- When Zuko and Jet looked out the window, there are sixteen bowls. By the time they entered, there were eight bowls left.
- When Zuko, Jet, and Smellerbee are sliding down the zipline, Smellerbee can be seen standing by the two, but in the close-up scene when they are sliding down, she can no longer be seen. In the next shot of them sliding down by the side, she is seen sliding by the others again.
- When Zuko and the Freedom Fighters are stealing the captain's food, they zip line down a rope tied to an arrow shot by Longshot, which is subsequently yanked out of the railing. This could not be possible, because if it were weak enough to be yanked out, it could not have supported the weight of three people and two sacks of food. And if it were strong enough to support that much weight, it would have been impossible to pull out of the railing.
- When Suki jumps in the water to save Toph from drowning, her makeup is still fully intact and not even smudged.
- When Zuko and Jet are talking on bow of the ferry, Jet is a few feet away from Zuko, but in the next shot he is right next to him.
- The Book Two DVDs refer to this episode as "Journey to Ba Sing Se, Part 1: The Serpent's Pass".
- This episode aired alongside "The Drill" as the one-hour special, Avatar: Secret of the Fire Nation. Until Sozin's Comet aired, this special was the highest-rated among viewers, with 4.4 million viewers.
- This special airing, called The Secret of the Fire Nation, was sponsored by Upper Deck Entertainment (distributor of the Avatar Trading Card Game) for special premiere screenings at numerous cities throughout the United States. These screenings began on September 9, six days before the Nickelodeon television airing, at Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, Louisville, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, and Washington, D.C. movie theaters and included demonstrations of the Avatar TCG.
- In the listing of Season 2 in Amazon.com's streaming video library, this episode and "The Drill" are combined into "The Secret of the Fire Nation." However, the two-episode special that pre-dated it, The Fury of Aang, is instead listed as the separate episodes "The Library" and "The Desert".
- Full Moon Bay pokes fun at the atmosphere of a modern-day airport, mocking their strict security, stolen luggage, difficult employees, etc.
- This episode marks Jet's first appearance since "Jet" and he is chewing on a piece of wheat rather than a twig, which he chewed in his first appearances.
- As Aang and the others reach the gate to the Serpent's Pass, they noticed the words "abandon hope" carved on the gate. This could be a reference to the words that appear above the gates of hell in Dante's The Divine Comedy, which read: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."
- When Jet and Zuko are talking, Zuko says, "I've realized lately that being on your own isn't always the best path." He is referring to the events that took place in "Zuko Alone".
- Sokka kisses Suki twice in this episode: once to silence her, and later to confirm that he loves her.
- Katara's parting the waters at the gap mimics Moses parting the Red Sea in the Exodus story of the Bible.
- Upper Deck's 'Avatar' Promotion. ICV2 (August 27, 2006). Retrieved on August 29, 2013.